When Eusebio Unzué sat down with reporters in the lobby of the Hotel Estelar in Paipa on the eve of the Tour Colombia, conversation naturally turned to his first visit to these parts in the autumn of 1995.
At that year’s World Championships, Unzué was in the team car behind Miguel Induráin when he claimed time trial gold in Tunja, and he was on hand four days later when Miguelón helped Abraham Olano to Spain’s first road race title. The Colombian exhibition ended with a failed attempt at the Hour Record in Bogotá, but it did little to sour the memories.
“Miguel punched the air when he crossed the line in second place, and I think that gesture summed up the teamwork of that period,” Unzué recalled.
“In his first nine years with this team, we helped him, but he also helped us,” Unzué said of the Colombian, who spent a year on the sidelines following his positive tests for Tramadol on the 2022 Tour de France before Movistar surprisingly offered him a way back in last autumn.
Yet while that attempt at repeating the past has drawn all the headlines in the build-up to the Tour Colombia, Unzué also had thoughts about the future of the sport, namely the One Cycling project championed by Visma-Lease A Bike manager Richard Plugge and a select group of teams, who view it as a chance to wrest some control of revenue from race organisers and reshape the balance of power in the sport.
Last week, Reuters reported that an investment firm owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is in talks to provide €250 million of backing to the venture. Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in international sport in recent years amid criticism that it is doing so to distract from its human rights record.
“There are concerns from teams who are understandably thinking about the future of this sport,” Unzué said of the One Cycling project.
“They want to discover other pathways to make us a bit more competitive in this jungle of sport. But we can’t give out any details given the phase it’s in at the moment. I think it’s important that we have this in mind, and we’ll see the reactions of the people who could be interested in this.”
Movistar have not previously been reported as being among the parties active in discussions over the One Cycling project, but Unzué indicated…